Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Another blogger fired

Never mind free speech, if the boss doesn't like something you have to say in your blog, you could end up jobless.

Joyce Park works (worked) for Friendster as a programmer. Her specific job was to speed up the site by switching some key site components from JavaScript to PHP. She made the very bad mistake, apparently, of stating in passing in reply to a question about her PHP operations that the site had been a bit "pokey" before the change.

Not exactly earth-shaking stuff. Nevertheless, enough to get her fired.

Critics of Friendster's move called it "silly" in light of Park's boosterism of the company. "Especially for a social networking company, it seems to reflect a particularly poor understanding of the medium," said Wendy Seltzer, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She added that because Friendster is a private company based in California, it can fire people at will, barring any discrimination. One blogger even urged Friendster users to terminate their accounts in retaliation. --Cnet News

Visit the Troutgirl site to get an idea of how it feels to get fired over a few published words. Apparently it isn't exactly a good feeling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Understanding doctype statements

If you have ever looked at your Blogger template, you may have seen something like this above the HEAD statement:

!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"

The doctype element is usually the first line of any template and gives some specific instructions to the browser on how some things should be treated. On a very basic level, the doctype element tells the browser what version of HTML is being used.

The "EN" part of the element refers to the language used in the markup. This is frequently misunderstood to mean the document is rendered in English. That is not the case and the document itself might be rendered in any language.

An incorrect or inappropriate doctype statement can lead to some unexpected results. We sometimes see questions here on Blogger Forum about problems that are solved by making sure the doctype element is appropriate for the document. In other words, you shouldn't blindly copy templates without having some understanding of how this works. For a very good explanation of the doctype element, take a look at the O'Reilley Net Web Devcenter. Here's an example:


This DOCTYPE claims that the document is a strict document; that is, it is authored according to a strict adherence to the W3C specification, and uses no presentational markup. Upon seeing this, IE5/Mac will kick its rendering engine into standards mode, so that your document will be displayed according to the W3C standards. This affects IE5/Mac's handling of both CSS and HTML.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Metro Blogs

What are Metro Blogs, anyway?

"We're kind of that friend of yours that always knows what's happening in the city," said Jen Chung, editor-in-chief of the New York-based blog Gothamist.com, where she encouraged theatergoers this week to get out and see New York International Fringe Festival theater, passing along that "we hear that this is the first year that all the venues are air-conditioned -- woo-hoo!" --CNN.com

For those bloggers who haven't quite found the niche they want to blog about, this could be an attractive area if someone isn't already blogging about your home town. Consider the numbers. Gothimist.com is getting about 30,000 unique visitors daily.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Blog meets Web dating

The nature of blogging is such that is had to be inevitable: dating sites have discovered the appeal of blogging.

It is so absolutely easy for an online dating service to host and integrate blogging that I'm surprised it hasn't been done more often. Blogging is a fun way to interact with a site. Blogs, by their nature, tend to raise the rankings of sites. Take a look at the way eTwine.com has put their site into the blogosphere. Here's a sample from an eTwine blog:

My shirt looks good but it would look better on your floor? What is this, cheesy pick-up lines 101? I think my shirt would look just great still on me walking back to my apt asap!!! So I'm out last week and this guy is talking to me and asks me for my # so I figure why not and give it to him. He calls me and I only have a second so I make plans to meet him for a quick drink. We meet and TOMMY is still really cute but I guess between the loud music and 4 grey goose & tonics lol, I never realized that he's the not the sharpest tack in the box.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Page Rank discussions

There is an interesting thread going on at Outfront on the subject of Page Rank. Specifically, what goes into calculating not only rank, but how rank should be looked at as only part of the equation in determining how a site is treated by Google and some of the other engines. Here is an excerpt from one post in the thread:

... you have on-page optimization factors and off-page optimization factors. Both are important, but IMO - off page/off site factors are more important.

Here are a few on page factors: meta keywords, meta description, keywords in title, domain name, position terms in title, page size, (h1, h2, h3, h4), words at the beginning of sentence or paragraph, valid HTML, text to html ratio, anchor text, alt text, broken links, internal linking, proximity of keywords to other factors, keyword density in body, bold/italic/other keywords, file name, file size, text around links, age of site, age of links, case of keywords, misspelling, bad grammar, plurals and many many more.

Off page: Page rank, anchor text (and all that goes with it), theme of site linking to you, number of back links, server response time, SEO programs, speed that links are required... basically links, links, links.

As you can see, the complexity of what goes into determining how your sites fares goes way beyond one or two factors.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


Suppose you purchased a domain name in 1996 for your personal use called Katie.com. Suppose further that someone wrote a book based on the life of a girl name Katie who was molested:

The book, "Katie.com," chronicled the plight of Katherine Tarbox, a 13-year-old from Connecticut who struck up an online relationship with a man she believed was 23. He turned out to be a 40-year-old registered sex offender, and when she met him in a Houston hotel a couple of months later while in town for a swim meet, he molested her.

And, suppose further that the author decided to name the book Katie.com. The book, by the way, has been quite a success --but not for Katie Jones who owns the real katie.com Website.

With the book's release to critical and commercial success, Jones -- the real katie.com -- began receiving millions of e-mails a week to her katie@katie.com inbox.

You can read the full story on CNN.com, but you would think that either the author or publisher would have checked out whether katie.com was an actual site before using it for a book name.

Monday, August 02, 2004

How Google lets itself be manipulated

There is something seriously wrong with Google's approach to page rank. This is especially true when it comes to blogs.

Consider this search phrase: "Blogging Tips."

The number 2 return (just before Blogger Forum) is a site called "Blogging Tips" located on BlogSpot. Take a look at the site before we continue.

Ready? Now, what have you noticed about the site? Right, it is a blog. Now, what else? It has a page rank of 6. Google must really consider this an important site since it is #2 on the search phrase return and the site itself is ranked number 6. Notice anything else?




So, in summary, you can plagerize someone else's work, post it as a blog, and Google will reward you with a high page rank for having absolutely nothing of any value to anyone. By the way, I pointed this out about six months ago and Google has done nothing. As a matter of fact, the page rank is now higher than my first post about this site.

It really makes me wonder why anyone bothers trying to impress Google. I see way too many cases of really informative and helpful sites not getting the ranking while jokes like Blogging Tips slide by with Google lapping them up. So, all of you folks who agonize over Google rankings just remember this: all the hype about Google's ability to rank sites in an orderly and logical way is just that, hype. It breaks down way, way too often.